Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series

Dark Skies: The Declassified Complete Series
There was a time when The X-Files ruled the airwaves; it was so popular that every network wanted to make their own rip-off, and the late '90s television schedule was punctuated with similar shows that appeared and then inevitably disappeared after just one season. Dark Skies was one of those. That's a little unfair because while Dark Skies owed a huge debt to The X-Files, it also stood head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, thanks to its lofty ambitions and skilful writing. The series tells the tale of a very different historical view of the U.S., one where aliens arrived with the Roswell Incident in 1947 and never left. In fact, a special government department (Majestic-12) has been set up to both keep the alien invasion quiet and to deal with the evil race of parasitic extraterrestrials called the Hive. But the most impressive thing is that this story is threaded throughout actual U.S. history, so when the story kicks off in the early '60s, President Kennedy is assassinated by aliens because he found out about their plans to take over the world. Dark Skies is the ultimate conspiracy theory show, one that could have become really interesting if it stuck around for more than one year. It also perfectly captures the naive idealism of the period via the two lead characters ― John Loengard (Without A Trace's Eric Close) and Kim Sayers (General Hospital's Megan Ward) ― and their ongoing fight to stay one step ahead of the bad guys is as good enough a reason as any to keep watching. Add to that the wonderfully charismatic J.T. Walsh as Frank Bach (the mysterious and menacing head of Majestic-12) and even the somewhat dated special effects can't detract from what is a well-written and acted show. Plus, any show that speculates whether the Beatles' American television debut was actually a coded message from aliens, and features Dr. Timothy Leary as a pivotal character in an episode, has to be worth watching. Considering that the show was made back in 1996, it looks pretty good, although there is something somewhat annoying about watching a show that is neither widescreen nor close to being HD. But what elevates this set is the impressive collection of bonus features filling an entire DVD. The highlights are "Signal To Noise," a retrospective on the show that clocks in at almost an hour, plus the proposal to the network on where the creators wanted the series to go in the second season. There is also the international version of the pilot episode (which isn't that different), a short feature that explains the terminology used in the show, some promos and behind-the-scenes featurettes. In addition, there is a commentary track for the first and last episodes with the creators, plus Close and Ward. (Shout! Factory)